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Alternative & Indie - Released April 2, 2013 | Jagjaguwar

Booklet Distinctions 4 étoiles Rock and Folk
Begun in 2011 at the Montreal dream pop act's own Breakglass Studios, Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO is the Besnard Lakes' fourth full-length and keeps to their habit of releasing a dense, lovingly crafted album awash with crunching guitars and hazy strings every three to four years. Led and formed by the husband/wife duo of Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas, it's clear that Breakglass is the key instrument when defining the Besnards' sound. While 2007's The Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse was a step up both sonically and commercially from their Smashing Pumpkins-influenced low-key 2004 debut, Vol. 1, each subsequent release has in turn seen the band steadily broaden its palette. Released in 2010, the aptly titled The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night saw them accentuate both their progressive and soft rock sensibilities, and these are most certainly retained for Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO. The band has classified writing and recording as being much the same process for quite some time, an approach that sets its indie rock apart from the many "verse/chorus/verse" worshiping acts that pervade the field. Although the dramatic "People of the Sticks" is the closest thing to a traditionally structured track on this release, even at the point when the verse edges into a chorus, it feels like you're listening to a subtle and natural mood change. While it could easily have sat on the revered Roaring Night, it's the material here such as "And Her Eyes Were Painted Gold" and "Catalina" that effectively hints at a new chapter for the band. Both betray a foggier take on that string-laden, psychedelic stage musical sound that Dave Fridmann found for Mercury Rev in the late '90s. Elsewhere, "46 Satires" -- the beautiful and pulsing Spiritualized-nod that opens the album -- floats from section to section before presenting a tastefully brief, but blistering, guitar solo from Lasek and eventually drifting into an almost gospel-like coda. While Goreas' father sadly passed away during the sessions for this album, you can't help but think that she has him in mind when tenderly ending the song with the line "Three rainbows arched over the valley where you lay." There is also a sense of reassurance and understanding from her husband that permeates the ghostly, Beach Boys-inspired track "The Specter." Here, when Lasek sings the equally tender refrain "Close your eyes," he invokes the same sentiment as the classic Wilson/Asher composition "Don't Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)." Touching moments such as these can be found across the album, offering a glimpse of pure heartfelt emotion that was sometimes lost amongst the abstract imagery of spies and soldiers that dominated previous albums. All in all, UFO is another valuable addition to their canon, completed with skill and affection in equal measure. © James Wilkinson /TiVo

Alternative & Indie - Released January 22, 2013 | Jagjaguwar

Booklet Distinctions 3F de Télérama - 4 étoiles Rock and Folk - Pitchfork: Best New Music
With their album-length 2012 EP Take the Kids Off Broadway, backwards-looking concept rockers Foxygen arrived with so many classic rock reference points you could have made a bingo card out of the various nods to various heroes contained in their still somehow undeniably hooky songs. Proper full-length We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic is even more stuffed full of familiar sound cues and convincing '60s and '70s pop star mimicry, this time with heightened production from Richard Swift taking the album out of the lo-fi realm, and more personal lyrics adding some character to the artifice. Picking apart the blatant, intentional references to different classic songs that cycle verse-to-verse throughout the album is a fun game for record collector types; from the nod to the intro of Sgt. Pepper's on album-opener "In the Darkness" to the bold-faced Dylanisms (and less overt but equally strong Al Stewart-isms) of the incredible, big city lament "No Destruction." Bowie, Lou Reed, all eras of Mick Jagger, specific doo wop songs, and even moments of the Band; no oldies are safe from Foxygen's pure-hearted appropriation. Their reconstructive surgery of various influences is an interesting approach for a band made up of kids in their early twenties circa 2013, but it isn't the entire formula for what makes this record so great. Lots of bands before Foxygen have dealt with quick changes and sonic patchworks of older influences, but few have managed to craft songs as moving and catchy as these. The thick accents and psychedelic swirl of "San Francisco" walk the line of being patronizingly nostalgic until the hook-heavy chorus comes in, distant guest vocals from Jessie Baylin and Sarah Versprille answering singer Sam France's "I left my love in San Francisco" with refrains of "That's okay, I was bored anyway" and "That's okay, I was born in L.A." This one move disarms any cloying elements of the song and reminds the listener that Foxygen are in complete songwriting control, not just throwing back-dated pop culture references at the wall and hoping something sticks. In their earliest days, Of Montreal had a similar knack for updating their favorite records with their own personalities, as did many artists of the Elephant 6 collective, but WAT21CAOPAM is more tuned in, clear-headed, and full of intent than any of Foxygen's more immediate predecessors. It's a gorgeous and non-stop convergence of ideas, some borrowed, some original, some refurbished, and some outright stolen. In the end, however, the album's coherence comes in its incredible architecture of all these ideas, and the way the band sells them with everything they've got, taking what could be incredibly obtuse music back into the realm of pop from which it was born. © Fred Thomas /TiVo